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San Francisco is full of restaurants serving up dishes best enjoyed during early hours on weekends, along with a boozy beverage or two. Here are seven brunch spots perfect for enjoying delicious food, catching up with friends, and even curing that (occasional) hangover.
In a town where brunch lines can be an hour or more, it’s refreshing that Nopa accepts reservations (which you’ll need if you want to get in). The high-ceilinged dining room is warm and inviting during the day, and looks even better after one of the restaurant’s fantastic brunch cocktails. Brunch is not the time to get the famous burger – save that for dinner or late night. Instead, focus on the egg in a hole or oven-baked egg. And, of course, an order of the custard French toast to share with the table.
The wait to get into Plow’s brunch can be around two hours, but it’s well worth it. Plow only serves breakfast and lunch (AKA ‘brunch’), which is almost disappointing considering how well they do those two meals, but means they can put all their focus on doing them exceptionally well. Though there are some healthy items on the menu that are quite tasty, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t order one of the pancakes (we love the lemon ricotta version) or the biscuits and housemade pork sausage gravy. No matter what, be sure to order the plow potatoes, which are mashed, then fried until perfectly crispy, and are without a doubt the best breakfast potatoes you’ll find anywhere in San Francisco.
Dim sum is the perfect brunch option when you’re looking for something that’s not your traditional bacon and eggs situation, but still feels comforting and satisfying. And though Yank Sing is definitely more expensive than other SF dim sum spots, we like it for its elegant and festive mood. Going there feels special and like a real dining occasion. The dim sum is served from carts, which can be a little intimidating if you’re not sure what everything is, but the servers are happy to point everything out on the menu (though they can also be a little pushy, so you have to stand firm if you don’t want something). Be sure to keep an eye out for the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and the har gao (shrimp dumplings), and to pace yourself. Most dishes will come around a second time, so don’t feel pressure to order it all at once.
If you could only eat one brunch in San Francisco for the rest of your life, it’s hard to imagine picking anywhere other than Zazie in Cole Valley. The French bistro is a brunch institution in the city for good reason. The most obvious is the large selection of excellent early day dishes, like the Pierre Noir eggs benedict (bacon, tomatoes provençales and a lemon hollandaise), gingerbread pancakes with meyer lemon curd and bosc pears, a croque madame that always seems too big to finish but never is, and make-your-own-mimosas with a selection of fresh fruit juices. But what also brings people back again and again (despite the wait, which there almost always is unless you get there right when it opens) is the delightful atmosphere and the friendly staff. Zazie is tip-free, which can come with a bit of sticker shock at first, but once you do the math, and read about why being so is great for employees, it quickly makes sense.